Rigorous
Inaugural Issue
Volume One, Issue 1


Poems by Lana Bella


Dear Suki: Number Forty-Eight

Dear Suki: Autumn, Dana Point, 2003,
if I could just have the last warm days
of September gathered in a bundle of
cable-knit sweaters with me always, I'd
propel forever into stillness, into terror,
into the stings that spilled from a half-
stocked hot buttered rum. Because in
déjà vu, you used to love phantom hum
on my lips, patching zephyr's wings out
of staccato into murmured wake, teasing
twin point-shaped ears with each treble
vain. Self-treading motes of a mute glow
housed around the gabled side of your
instincts, cloud-seeding, voltaic-fingers
rustled in the cachexia of my length and
vesper—caught me in the revolving door.




Daughter of the Earth

this dream of blue gerbil
ripened in rustle of smoke,
graying the mackinaw of
the girl who breathed
it in, startling like moths
caught by the crook of tree—
long reed hair hung down
straight shadow of a spine,
eyes lofted wet with pearls
of a million windborne dews,
she cast out foul shanties
like dices toward the depths
of still, where second sight
turned somnambulant, and
pale lips kissed silver-stiff
of cicadas’ wings, oaring into
the too-warm air sluggish
with sprigs of dark’s castoffs,
puissant in ivory’s blooms,
cleaving her thoughtlessly as
she was cleft—




Just Between Us

just because I love you whole
does not mean I will not loathe
you parts in my own time
and despair—
I remembered your fingers at
my wrist, love,
when what I needed most
was a thinnest syringe
to the veins when you failed me
with the aches that sink along
in felled relics smoke—
as I knelt here,
I will go back to my odd-
numbered pages scripting
the dates of your chronic scores
and warring promises over
a terribly long time—
love, you'd existed at a time
when I could only be held
in someone else's mind's eyes,
gazing out into the universe
with indifferent shrug,
heart pulsed of infected verbatim
beneath dark-sleeved oblivion,
a spoor berefts of cairns,
a thought that washed you finally,
while all things seethed—




Defenestration

between the strings of mandolin
and spiderwebs' pale mesh sky,
I half-dressed in smooth torrent
of frankincense where a hundred
nights made home on lost reverie,
thread-bare rugs, darkness darted
out to leech sunrise swift and whole—


laboring my way up the stairs, close
enough to know the bones of metal
pipes cold, through the still obsidian
places where living struck a match,
where the meridian of my heels over
plush down ankle-long and ribbed,
pattering in the remnants of catkins,
like breaths pooling between layers
of sounds, flat-crackled and echoing—


for I was a ghost taken leave of me,
jostled free in the shadows of passing
moon beyond the pane, traipsing gold
inlays with fingertips evanesced into
the shotgun fade—




This Too Instructed Patience

August has found December;
downpour turned to snowfall.
Between the growing months,
I paled into the grey paperwall.
Days guillotined; dark dressed
in kelly-metal suit, archived
sunlight's access code, tuning
the electric air with wayward
boughs of topiary. Gold lamp
sent radiance that pooled over
the red damask breakfast bar;
I stumbled between the faded
edges of dissolving glue; eyes
manic and bright, arms coated
in charcoal dust, fingers harken
back to the downward thrust of
wintertide’s strokes of chrome
calligraphy. So, I sat with flaked
primer for bones, turning forever
quickly as spiders felled legs in
munitions of slate, chiseled like
weary came to prey. Feels I will
never realize again danced me to
the woodsy beam of sill and worn
moon; nocturnes pressed closer
than any skin would, narcotized
with its human host, dropped into
dust, wilted like tulips without rain.




Dear Suki: Number Sixty

Dear Suki: The Sand Hills, 1984,
on my fingers your kiss, darting—
a pale edge searing the flesh in its
fluid hurl. You stood silhouetted
against what otherwise was a slip
of mist, capricious, kettle-shaped
form dressed with honey skin and
milk teeth. Doe-eyed fair as cloud
dissolved into grey-nosed Sunday
doves; I desired your tongue that
cut my innocence with blades, and
the lay of it giving way to some in-
exact memory, reflected in alkalis
and briar rose. Now I stood gazing
through the sum of us, slim enough
to be nestled in between the wind’s
dichotomous wing tips, until you
sank into me like the lone prayer I’ll
ever need, soft braids and nocturnes
eyes, a little marauding metronome
that grew large and well—spiny and
coiled in repose, with a nuptial glow
of a monarch queen.




Mad Alchemy

halcyon-stillest eyes
stirred behind the bun
of silk cantilever,
whose meniscus loomed
a fawning rouge, and
the mad alchemy of it all
leeched through glass,
jostled for the pyre
of pale absinthe—
when the hollow girl
shook away pleats from
suit of charcoal gray,
long fingers reached for
acoustics less of river,
more of breaths,
just enough to sift
beyond her like sand,
before she laid down veins
of white, before she
bowed and beheld in
someone else’s kindest lie—




Moribund

Grief spread across rye bread
like seeds—sometimes a glow
beneath the bay, a half-bottle
of Spiced Tiger, a day as dark
as chocolate, will have her legs
leap fences with spans of scars
feathered wings in flight.

Light larked between days and
spring paused on aches bathed
over long ignored troves, whose
dense flimsy roots can be woven
from her hand to moth-tethered
fleece. Their braid of indigo seeds
moved across bartered time, into
the nest of nerves whimpered in
spider silk.

Bare skin hummed where pelting
sea of voices soon to drown her,
lips bloodless, eyes lacquered to
the tightrope of invisible things,
gathering memories and requiem
and all those recursive dreams of
with then without—bones soldered
through smoke and shadows. Hers
was a death in moribund grief.


A three-time Pushcart Prize nominee, Lana Bella is an author of three chapbooks, Under My Dark (Crisis Chronicles Press, 2016), Adagio (Finishing Line Press, 2016), and Dear Suki: Letters (Platypus 2412 Mini Chapbook Series, 2016), has had poetry and fiction featured with over 340 journals, 2River, California Quarterly, Chiron Review, Columbia Journal, Grey Sparrow, Notre Dame Review, Otoliths, Poetry Salzburg Review, San Pedro River Review, The Ilanot Review, and Westwind, among others. She resides in the US and the coastal town of Nha Trang, Vietnam, where she is a mom of two far-too-clever-frolicsome imps.




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